Martin is a troubled young man. With a mother who insists on treating him like a child, a stepfather who can't wait to see the back of him, and a brother with Down's Syndrome shut away in ... See full summary »
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Martin is a troubled young man. With a mother who insists on treating him like a child, a stepfather who can't wait to see the back of him, and a brother with Down's Syndrome shut away in an institution, is it any wonder he retreats into an alternate personality - that of six-year-old Georgie? It is Georgie who befriends Susan Harper, but friendship soon turns into obsession. When Susan begins to distance herself, something inside Georgie snaps and he embarks on a killing spree, with Susan as the next target. Written by
Kevin Steinhauer <K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU>
The film's controversial nature led to a prologue being added during post-production, explaining that there was no connection between Mongolism and psychopathic behavior. See more »
Ladies and gentlemen, because of the controversy already aroused, the producers of this film wish to re-emphasize what is already stated in the film, that there is no established scientific connection between Mongolism and psychotic or criminal behavior.
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Now if only I could get that catchy tune out of my head.
A storm in a tea-cup is how to describe the glaring reputation formed by this obviously influenced Hitchcok-like, British slow pot-boiler psycho-thriller. At its core is a very daring, but questionable theme (or better put taboo) that landed it in hot-water with the media when released, as it opens with a disclaimer ruling out the scientific connections between siblings of mongoloid children being linked to criminal behavior. Well it must have been effective in some shape, as that's one way to get your film noticed! Screenplay/writer Leo Marks wouldn't be wet behind the ears to controversy, due to the fact he wrote the story for chillingly sleazy 1960 'Peeping Tom' that saw director Michael Powell's work getting heavily cut.
Martin Darnley is a coldly smart, but considerably nurtured and lonely young lad of a wealthy family that sees his mother smother him, while his domineering step-father wants to get rid of him and his mongoloid brother hospitalized. Assuming a false identity under Georgie; a nice, but mentally back-wards boy he meets a young lady Susan Harper who he takes a real shine too. Under certain circumstances and made-up stories he finds himself staying at a lodging house owned by Susan and her mother Joan.
Where it goes on to spark the interest and really builds around is the dark and unnerving psychological interplay of Martin (with a magnificently conniving and edgy performance by Hywel Bennett) manipulating and preying on the goodwill of others to adapt and form his new identity for ones own gain. The biting (if heavy-handed an absurd) material really does complement the calculative, random and moody ambiance, where it demonstrates a glassy sort of tension awaiting to break from the dramatic actions of the progressively plotted layout. This is more so character-based, than anything related to thrills. Bernard Herrmann's grandiosely sizzling score eerily caresses with the catching whistling rift by Bennett's character striking a cord. Director/writer Quentin Tarantino would sample the jarring whistle tune in 'Kill Bill Vol. 1'. Most of the suspense arose from Herrmann's masterful arrangement, than anything visually. Roy Boulting does an accomplished job directing, even with some stretched-out moments it remains curiously gripping throughout and the expressive camera-work takes shape to where it reaches its hysterical climax. The lovely ladies that appear are a terrific Haley Mills as Susan and Billie Whitelaw is absolutely great as her mother Joan. There's also a boisterous Barry Foster appearing as one of the lodgers.
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